iPhone's Location-Aware Apps

The iPhone‘s location-aware APIs are being used by developers for all sorts of applications. I wrote some of my initial thoughts about the implementation on Friday. I’ve downloaded a ton of applications, but these are the ones that I have so far found to be most noteworthy. I am sure that by the end of the month I will have an entirely new list.

If you don’t have an iPhone these posts are going to seem monotonous and echo-chambery. I can understand that; hearing constantly about a gadget you don’t use is annoying. However, I think that what is on the iPhone now will be on other phones in the future and if your site or product has any location aspect you’ll want to keep track of this marketplace.

Loopt – Free


I saw a quick preview of Loopt‘s friendfinder app at Where 2.0 and I’ve been eagerly awaiting it ever since. The Virtual Earth map allows me to see both my friends and Yelp search results together. I can also share my location through the app with friends. Unfortunately, this only seems to work for other Loopt users and Loopt does not seem to be to popular amongst my friends — yet. I hope that a friendfinder app comes along that will replace my address book and show me a friend’s latest status or location before I call them. Loopt has the status, but not the ability to call.

Whrrl – Free

Pelago‘s Whrrl is the other free, VC-backed friend-finder app. It, like Loopt, show me friends and businesses on the same map. One major difference is that it is more of a browse functionality (showing places reviewed by friends). Another is that Whrrl is also a web-service and all of this information (and my account) is available via a browser. Unfortunately, I can’t actually resize the map; it’s very awkward.

Where – Free


The Where platform was released by uLocate on Sprint last year (Radar post). This one program makes it very easy for developers to build location-aware widgets. The Where app provides the platform and the distribution channel for developers across many phones and carriers. The apps included in the iPhone version include a Starbucks finder, gasbuddy, HeyWhatsThat (a location-aware mountain identifier), SkyMap, Yelp, and a Zipcar finder. If you are looking to test the waters with a location-aware iPhone app I would consider using the Where platform.

Omnifocus – $19.99

Omnifocus is a GTD-style task manager that syncs with a Mac-only program of the same name. It will use your location to help you create location-based to-do list. I haven’t been able to find this part of the functionality yet so I am not sure how well implemented or useful it is.

Urban Spoon – Free

urban spoon

Urban Spoon is a restaurant picker with a unique twist. After using three slot machine dials to select neighborhood, cuisine, and cost you can shake the app to get a matching restaurant. The app will spin the dials (as shown in the screenshots), while waiting for your pick to come back. I’ve found the available locations to be limited (for example Santa Rosa, CA is missing), but if you can use the app where you are then its worthwhile.

Twittelator – Free


Twittelator is one of the two free Twitter clients. It’s got a nice feature that lets you send a link to a map of your location. It also has a “Twitter 911” feature. If you press the yellow button it will blast your followers with a Help Me message and a link to your location. I’ve had usability issues with both Twittelator and Twitteriffic (which also has some location-aware features) and haven’t selected my primary one yet.

NearPics – free


Nearpics is a location-aware photo browser. It uses your location to select local photos from Google’s Panoramio service. It’s very sluggish over AT+Ts Edge network, but works quite well on WiFi.

Weatherbug – Free


While not location-aware (that I can tell) Weatherbug provides a lot of great information on three different pre-selected cities. It’s much more detailed than the standard issue iPhone weather app.